HOUSTON — A Houston sex trafficking victim is now suing several hotels, truck stops and websites. She claims they turned a blind eye and profited from the sex trade business.
The claim was filed under a new provision of the civil practice and remedies code called chapter 98, which states that people can hold businesses accountable if they knowingly profit from participating in a venture that involves human trafficking.
Her attorneys, Annie McAdams and David Harris filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday, on the 18-year-old's behalf. Court documents refer to the victim only as 'Jane Doe #1,' and details how she was forced into sex trafficking as a minor.
"We are excited to have the civil justice system stand as a pillar next to law enforcement to fight this problem," McAdams said.
"We're going to cut off where these actions are going on. Each one of these entities share a separate form of negligence from each other," Harris said.
Taking on a human trafficking case as civil attorney, falls in the balance of unchartered territory, but McAdams and Harris are hoping for an outcome that goes beyond monetary compensation.
"Civil justice is about punishing businesses in a language that they understand. I can't put the corporation of Backpage in Harris County jail, but I can certainly affect change and getting their attention by hitting them where it hurts," McAdams said.
The lawsuit also falls during a time when female empowerment and discussions of sexual abuse are on the forefront of the nation's mind and it could pave the way for more victims to come forward in the future.
"We have Jane Doe #1 on the paper today, hopefully soon you'll see Jane Doe #2 and many more that are brave enough to follow in her footsteps," Harris said.
"Houston's going to have the opportunity to affect not just Houston, not just Texas, not just the country for that matter, but internationally, human trafficking," McAdams said.
The attorneys are now in the process of serving the petition to the defendants.
"With the facts that we have, we can't be beat. I'm very confident that we're going to be successful in this lawsuit and I cannot wait to get in front of our judge and the court, and get a trial date so that Jane Doe, her story, and her voice can be heard," Harris said.